The Truth Will Come Out Eventually

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We all come across LOTS of things in today’s media environment.  I was just reading about a very public fairy-tale courtship, romance, and wedding – with people glowing about all the positives.  But a few people who knew the bride well said very early on that “she is not what she seems”.  And guess what, over time she revealed herself to be a big-time classic narcissist – everything is all about her, she’s always the victim, etc. etc.  She also undermined existing relationships the husband had with his family, and trashed his family in public.  The secular literature says that you cannot “diagnose” a narcissist from a distance, and there is probably some truth to that, but sometimes these public celebrities are so obvious you can’t help it.

Even though she hid her N traits at the beginning while she was trying to “seal the deal”, once married she began to reveal her true nature.  This reminded me of the following in Proverbs,

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He who hates disguises it with his lips,
But he lays up deceit in his heart.
When he speaks graciously, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart.
Though his hatred covers itself with guile,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. 

Proverbs 26:24-26

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What’s in people’s hearts ALWAYS reveals itself eventually.  One with insolent pride – a narcissist – will always ultimately reveal their true hearts.  Jesus said the same thing when he said,

 

the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 

Matthew 12:34b

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As a side note, the entire second half of Proverbs 26 is filled with descriptions of narcissistic traits.  Take a look.

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How Do We Know The Bible Is True?

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Jesus said that establishing our lives on the solid rock of hearing … and doing.. His word is the difference between being able to weather the storms of life or crumbling in the face of them

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“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” 

Matthew 7:24-27

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The big question that everyone must face is “how do we know that God’s Word is true”?

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One way is through the internal consistency of the Bible.  While we may get hung up on the interpretation of an individual verse or passage, the Book as a whole is amazingly consistent.  The inspired harmony of the Bible is displayed in the consistency of its messages across time, writers, and words. The interwoven nature and consistent message of the Bible – a book penned by 40 authors over a span of 1500 years – is one demonstration that this amazing book and its message of God’s plan and provision for mankind truly comes from one Divine mind.

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This can be illustrated through a computer visualization of how the Bible ties together among the many passages.

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Another way is through the historical tracking of the Bible as far back as possible to the original writings (manuscripts) and the archaelogical work tying real events to real documents.

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Yet another is through the testimony of God’s creation.  Romans 1 says,

 

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

Romans 1:20

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However, I believe that the most solid foundation for confidence that God, the Bible, and it’s message are real is the documented historical fact of the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Look around you.  NO ONE comes back to life after they have been dead for three days.  The historically documented fact of Jesus’ resurrection is solid proof that it is all real.

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Consider the above as simply a starting point for your own exploration.  However, if Jesus and His Word are real and true, then it bodes us well to heed His message to build our lives on listening to His words, and following them.

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It Is A Privilege To Be Heard By God

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Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Hebrews 4:14-16

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I stumbled across this recently on Instagram.  Yes, God wants to do good for us and meet our genuine needs through answered prayer, but we should not forget that His kindness in hearing our requests – without rebuke – is also a privilege He extends.  Worth a listen…..

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Pray Strong In Your N Situation – Part 2

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Note:  The phrase “pray strong” may give the wrong impression, as of course it is GOD’s strength that matters.  The point is that we can ask the God of the universe for His help in specific ways that can make a huge difference. 

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When we are in a difficult situation with a narcissist we are sometimes given the prescription to “pray about it”.  This might be given with good intentions, but often without real understanding of what’s going on.  It’s always appropriate to bring God right into the middle of our problems.  But how we pray makes all the difference.

There are a few ways we can pray through our N challenge.  One is how we pray for ourselves.  Another is how we pray about specific ways of navigating our interface with them, or dealing with the fallout of the turmoil they create.  And yet another is how we pray for them.  This Part 2  gives an introduction of how to pray through the situation.

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God designed “need” to motivate us to seek Him, and walk with Him in a moment by moment manner.  “Need” started even in the Garden of Eden, before sin entered the world.  Adam and Eve were dependent on God.  Man has always sought to escape need.  For example, we want to have a  bank account big enough (although it’s never big enough) that we don’t need to worry.  I have a phrase I am praying for myself and my family that we would turn every need into prayer.

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This part 2 of “praying strong” is about praying for practical solutions in our situation with our narcissist.  The theme scripture for this post is:

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The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. 

James 5:16a-18

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There are times when we can “avoid” a narcissist, but other times when we cannot.  What do we do then?  I will illustrate my point with a situation from one of my sons (early 20’s) which has happened over this past year.

“J” took a new job last September working for someone who he considers to be a great (i.e. – easy to work for) boss in a tiny company.  However, that boss needed a second worker, and one month into J’s job the boss hired what proved to be a classic, big-time narcissist, “R”.  I will not go into the attitudes, traits, and actions that demonstrate the extent of “R’s” narcissism, but let’s just say that “R” would rank high on anyone’s scale.  “J” is aware of the traits of narcissists, but even with that it took a couple of months for “R’s” full colors to reveal themselves.  What was “J” to do?  Quit his job to get away?  Complain to the boss?

In a large company you might be able to change departments to get away from a toxic co-worker, but in a tiny company that is not possible.  The path chosen was to ask God for for day-to-day practical solutions, while at the same time praying about a longer term fix.

We tend to be lazy in our praying, and also tend to NOT want to seek God.  That results in us praying feebly for a monolithic, magic-bullet, single solution that solves EVERYTHING with the least amount prayer and work on our part.  (And many times we do not pray at all, and simply  think about how we can take things into our own hands to save ourselves from a situation).

We pray something like “God, deliver me from this situation”.  There is nothing wrong with that kind of prayer.  But God may also want us to walk hand-in-hand with Him THROUGH the situation, praying specific prayers for God’s specific help in situations created by our toxic narcissist.

The list of what this might be is endless.  Every difficulty – even the most minor – in our lives is an opportunity for God to show His goodness and power, further revealing facets of His glory.  Each is similar to the common trouble we all face…..

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No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 
1 Corinthians 10:13
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…. but like the endless variety of snowflakes, each difficulty is a unique opportunity for God to show Himself strong on our behalf
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For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 
2 Chronicles 16:9
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You can identify the specific NEEDS and difficulties which have been created through the N’s self-centered actions, and ask God for specific solutions to meet those needs and solve those difficulties.  God is bigger than your narcissist and your situation, and irrespective of your N’s intent, HE is able to thwart and counter.  Why not give God a chance to show what He can do?
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Back to our example, during this past year, “J” and his prayer support base asked God to intervene in specific ways to thwart, to shield, to counter, to make up for, and to protect against specific circumstances created by “R”, the big-time narcissist.  We also prayed that God would reveal to the kind but oblivious boss “R’s” true nature, character, and horrible work ethic, so that he could replace “R” with a decent employee.  Over the course of the year, God answered in many specific and clear ways on “J’s” behalf, even though “R” did not change his nature one bit.  In addition, while “J” persevered in his current trial, God also in the end also provided a new job opportunity where he could take his lessons learned and move forward into his adult career path.

 

We may say, “why do I have to go through this, and go to all this work?”  Or, we may say, “I tried that, and it did not work”.  Yes, our nature is to NOT persevere – we do not want the hassle.  The alternative is to leave God out of it, take things into our hands, and find our own solutions – but that path will include consequences.  God is constantly working for us to seek Him, to know Him, and to trust Him.  HE is not going to give up on that.  It is up to us how we respond.  We can seek His help or not – it’s up to us.  But we should remember that we are ignoring the help of the One who knows everything, who is all-wise, who has our good in mind – and has the power to create the universe.

This practice of praying specific “tactical” prayers in dealing with evil has application beyond individual situations with a narc.  It sure appears that evil is on the increase in our society.  We cannot avoid it.  The lessons we can learn in praying practically through situations with a narcissist can be very useful as we navigate this present evil world.

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Pray Strong In Your N Situation – Part 1

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Note:  there are times when the prescription for dealing with an N is to avoid them.  This post is for those times when we cannot do that. 

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When we are in a difficult situation with a narcissist we might be given the prescription to “pray about it”.  This might be given with good intentions, but often without real understanding of what’s going on.  It’s always appropriate to bring God right into the middle of our problems.  But how we pray makes all the difference.

There are a few ways we can pray through our N challenge.  One is how we pray for ourselves.  Another is how we pray about specific ways of navigating our interface with them, or dealing with the fallout of the turmoil they create.  And yet another is how we pray for them.  This Part 1  gives an introduction of how we pray for them.

Jesus made the following difficult statement:

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:43-45

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Some people have criticized the Biblical approach to dealing with narcissists by suggesting that it’s  simply a posture of passively allowing ourselves to be beaten up.  Jesus’s statement above and his statement just prior to “turn the other cheek” might be construed as advocating just that.  However, this critique looks at things on simply a human “me vs. them” plane, and leaves out the fact that we can invite the God who has the power to create and hold together the entire universe right into the middle of our struggle.

Jesus’ admonition to “pray for those who persecute you” did not describe “how” to pray.  How we pray makes all the difference.  For example, David prayed for his enemies like this in Psalm 35,

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Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take hold of buckler and shield
And rise up for my help.

Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me;
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life;
Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.

 

Let them be like chaff before the wind,
With the angel of the Lord driving them on.
Let their way be dark and slippery,
With the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
For without cause they hid their net for me;
Without cause they dug a pit for my soul.

 

Let destruction come upon him unawares,
And let the net which he hid catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall. 

Psalm 35:1-8

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I suggest you read the entire Psalm 35.  God says in Romans 12:19 (quoting Deuteronomy 32:35) that “vengeance is Mine, I will repay.”  Our job is to do good, God’s job is to defend us and execute justice – as only He can do with complete wisdom.  David focused on doing right, and prayed that God would deal with his enemies.

Can we also pray in a strong way for our narcissist, that does them good?  The answer is yes.

The narcissist’s greatest need is to humble themselves before the almighty God of the universe.  Their insolent pride torments us, but you can be sure that God feels more strongly about it than we do.  God demonstrated His ability to humble those who walk in pride by humbling the greatest man in the world of the time – King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  God dealt with Nebuchadnezzar over a period of 30 years, continuing to reveal Himself and help Nebuchadnezzar understand his place before God.  In the end, God took very strong action for Nebuchadnezzar to finally recognize God as the Lord, by making Nebuchadnezzar insane and living like an animal for 7 years until he finally submitted.  The result was this amazing statement by Nebuchadnezzar:

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34 “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

36 At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. 

37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just,

and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

Daniel 4

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Part of Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling process was God’s persistent revelation of His greatness and glory, as discussed in Ephesians 1.

Jesus tells us to pray for our narcissist, but why not pray stronglyFirst pray that God would protect us from them and that their attempts to harm us would fail.  Second, pray that God would humble them and enlighten their eyes to see God’s greatness and themselves in light of that greatness.  And third, to make sure our hearts are right and to act as “sons of light”, we can also pray for a specific need they may have – either for their salvation, or some practical need.

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If you are married to someone who is a genuine Christian, but still has the residual narcissistic blind spots from their “old man” (Romans 6), ask God to reveal it to them, convict them of it, and bring them to genuine repentance.

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Pray for your narcissist – but pray strongly.

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He Stretched Out His Hand With Scoffers

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For those suffering at the hands of narcissists – scoffers with insolent pride – a common question is “why”?  Why is God allowing this in my life?

There are many things to consider, but one answer is that it could be part of His discipline.  Those that are struggling to overcome a view of God as a big “punisher”, or who do not like the idea that God allows any pain into a person’s life, will struggle with this.  To be clear, God is a God of love and acts out of His fundamental goodness.  But sometimes that goodness means discipline (Hebrews 12), and He uses various means as part of the process.

The Biblical foundation for this is Hosea 7:5, which says that “….He stretched out his hand with scoffers”.  Just like in everything else, God can use scoffers as tools for His purposes.

We saw this in the case of David and Absalom.  When David sinned with Bathsheba, God told David through the prophet Nathan.

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Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.   Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 

Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” 

2 Samuel 12:9-12

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This happened.  David’s son Absalom was narcissistic, to the point that he even weighed his cut hair to show how lush it was (2 Samuel 14:26).  2 Samuel describes other examples of Absalom’s narcissistic traits.  Absalom’s narcissism led him to seek to overthrow David to become king, resulting in David fleeing Jerusalem to escape.  God ultimately delivered David out of Absalom’s hand, but not before God had used Absalom – to discipline David for his sin.

This was a Biblical case study.  I also know of two cases close to home.  I am by no means saying that every narcissist in our life is God’s punishment for something we’ve done in the past.  Absolutely not.  But it is possible.

How do we respond to this?  The normal tools for dealing with narcissists (addressed in this blog and in the book “A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism”) are appropriate.  In addition we should consider the admonition in Hebrews:

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For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are punished by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He punishes every son whom He accepts.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems not to be pleasant, but painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is impaired may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

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Pay particular attention to the last phrase in Hebrews 12:13.  How do we respond?  “Make straight paths for your feet” – live a life of righteousness – “so that the limb which is impaired (lame) may not be dislocated (permanently injured), but rather be healed.”

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David and Absalom

Reproofs

NOT EVERYONE

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Building A Biblical Perspective On Insolent Pride – Psalm 119

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Let’s do a little exercise on how to increase your Biblical perspective on a subject – it could be any subject – using “insolent pride” (the Biblical term for narcissism) as the example.

If you are starting from zero, it is impossible to immediately have the entire Biblical perspective right at the beginning.  You can only start with one piece, add another piece, and another piece, until a picture forms.  Consider it like building a wall brick by brick, or a painting brush-stroke by brush-stroke, or even a Lego figure lego-brick by lego-brick.  You analyze and interpret each brick, but also compare how it fits in with the next brick.  If you do not understand where a particular brick fits, you may have to set it aside until you see how it fits into the emerging figure.

Are there any guideposts that keep you on track at the very beginning?  You could use a picture of the finished work.  In the case of a Biblical perspective on something, the ultimate finished work is the nature and character of God, especially as shown through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Key verses like I John 4:10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:8, and John 3:16 provide foundational guideposts.

Let’s take a shot at how this brick building might work, using Psalm 119.

Psalm 119 talks about those with insolent pride.  How do we know this?  While the English word is “pride”, the Hebrew word (found through resources like http://www.biblehub.com) “zed” is the word for “insolent pride”.

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Strong’s Concordance
zed: insolent, presumptuous

Original Word: זֵד
Definition: insolent, presumptuous
from zud
Definition:  insolent, presumptuous
NASB Translation:  arrogant (9), arrogant men (1), presumptuous (1), proud (2).

KJV Translation: proud

Looking at each instance where “zed” is used in Psalm 119, we find the following verses – and what they tell us about 1.  narcissists, 2.  how God deals with them, and/or 3.  how we should we respond.

Here we go.  Remember that each use of the word “proud” below is “zed” – or insolent pride.  The following is from the King James Version.

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Psalm 119:21 – Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.  

    • God rebukes narcissists
    • They are “cursed” – either in this life (God opposes the proud) through failure, and/or in the next life through spending eternity in hell
    • Narcissists do NOT do what God says (even though they may claim or pretend to)

Psalm 119:51 – The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

    • Narcissists heavily scorned, mocked, looked down on, and criticized David (Hebrew word is  “lits” – the same as scoffer, one of the other terms for narcissists) – BUT
    • David did not use that attack from the narcissists as an excuse to walk away from God and his instructions for life
Psalm 119:69 – The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
    • Narcissists created (“forged”) lies against David – BUT
    • Rather than focus on fighting the lies, David put his attention on wholeheartedly following God and doing what He said
Psalm 119:78 – Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
    • Because narcissists twisted the truth and undermined David – even though he was innocent – David asked God to cause them fail in a humbling way that embarrassed and humiliated them – BUT
    • While GOD was dealing with narcissists in response to his prayer, David focused his attention in meditation on God’s word and how HE wanted David to live
Psalm 119:85 – The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
    • This one is a little unclear in the KJV – the NASB says it this way “The arrogant have dug pits for me, people who are not in accord with Your Law.”
    • Narcissists do not walk according to God’s ways (although they may say that they do – ie they are hypocrites).
    • They dig pits (create traps, try to undermine) others
Psalm 119:122 – Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
    • David asked God to promise good for him, backed by His own Person – (reputation, glory, blood if needed) – AND
    • Part of that promise would be for God to prevent narcissists from oppressing him.  He looked to God in specific prayer for HIS protection.
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There we are.  How many things did we learn about dealing with narcissists just from Psalm 119?  I count 14 – maybe you count a couple more or a few less.  Anyway, this is how a Biblical perspective is developed, line upon line.

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But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little  ‘

Isaiah 28:13

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Once again, when starting out do not come to a locked-in conclusion, until you have many pieces which make sense together.  If something does not make sense, set it aside until God further reveals it.  Do NOT develop your theology based on just a couple of verses.  We interpret every part of the Bible through consistency with the WHOLE Bible.  This takes a lifetime, but the effort and journey is worth it.

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About The Book And This Blog …..

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Reviews of the book, “A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism” show up on Amazon, Good Reads, Audible, and Facebook, etc.  They are all interesting and helpful in their own way.  Some people take the book for what it is, while others approach it looking for the answers they want to hear – and express disappointment and even anger when the book does not give them the justification they are looking for.  Some people do not actually read it carefully, and claim the book says or doesn’t say what was actually written.  That’s pretty normal – people tend to interpret life through the lens of their experiences and wishes.

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There was a recent review that pretty accurately reflects what the book is really about – and by extension what this blog is about.  Even though the review is public, I’ll let the author remain anonymous.  Here’s the review.

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If you’re living with a narcissist, and you want a biblical way to handle it, please read this book! This is the eighth book I have read on narcissism. The others helped me understand what it is, how to spot a narcissist and how to set boundaries. But this book is the first to give me a way to deal with it and live with narcissists, instead of just avoiding or divorcing them.   Instead of just calling narcissism a problem or mental disorder, the author goes to the heart of the matter. Narcissism is an insolently proud heart in competition with God to be God. A narcissist acts charming and good, but seeks self-exaltation and is a deceiving liar at the core. Scriptures say when someone rejects God their foolish heart will be darkened. The author says that rejecting God and His truth is the beginning of narcissistic pride.

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This book provides actionable wisdom on how a narcissist thinks and behaves and how we can protect our hearts with God’s word and truth. Go to God first. Let Him confirm your worth. Put on the full armor of God. Speak truth to yourself to counter narcissistic lies. See the narcissist as they are: unreliable, lacking in judgment and contentious. Fight evil with good, don’t rebuke but pray for wisdom in this warfare.

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Other books validated my experience of narcissists, but this is the first time my responses such as finding a safe corner to go to when narcissistic contention gets overwhelming were validated. Or knowing that God allowed this experience to bring good for me and good character from me.

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In living with narcissists, turning to God is key, or as the author states, the experience will just remain a series of hurts in our lives (PG 273). God has used my narcissists to heal me, show me my pride and other sins, and teach me to forgive. I have failed to love my narcissistic enemies, but that’s the next step.

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After finishing this book, for the first time since realizing that I was living with a narcissist, I have hope. God’s word works in all situations. My narcissists don’t define me. God is my strength and my shield. He is the strength of my heart Psalm 73:26. I can overcome this suffering by going to God first in prayer, standing against lies with truth, returning good for evil, relying on scriptural wisdom for action steps, and guarding my heart with God’s armor during this warfare. Remember this: Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous, fear not and do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave nor forsake you.

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This book is definitely one that I will read again. The author made the narrative flow easily from one point to the next. And the points came from scriptures. I was reading another bible study at the same time, and the contrast caught my attention. This book let’s scriptures speak first and the narrative flow from what they say. The other book wrote the narrative first then found a verse to fit what they wanted to say. I thought about writing about my experiences with narcissists, but this book started what I was thinking and more.

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I have said before and want to say again that this book was the result of my own personal search for God’s perspective in dealing with these difficult people (I am “Barry” in the introduction to the book).  It is by no means perfect or the final answer, but rather a starting point and framework for further digging and seeking God’s grace.  I continue to dig and learn, and I’m sure you as well.

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Narcissists and Sluggards Are Cousins

I came across a couple situations in just the past week which reminded me that narcissists are often “sluggards” (very lazy people).  Why?  In many cases the narcissist’s insolent pride creates a sense of entitlement which gives them the attitude that “what I want should just be given to me, without me needing to work for it”.

The Bible describes those with insolent pride and sluggards as two different people, but also provides some common characteristics.  For example, the sluggard shows characteristics of insolent pride, either through thinking they are wiser (superior) to even wise men…..

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The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can give a discreet answer. 
Proverbs 26:16
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….. or through focus on the fulfillment of their desires….
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The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat. 
Proverbs 13:4
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For the sluggard, it’s all about “what I want”, pridefully focusing on his desires without demeaning himself by actually needing to work.
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This is similar to the one with insolent pride (narcissist), who also thinks he does not have to work, but can instead focus on what he wants – self-exaltation.
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Better is he who is lightly esteemed and has a servant Than he who honors himself and lacks bread. 
Proverbs 12:9
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As discussed in a previous post, a narcissist often brags about his “accomplishments” instead of actually working to make them happen – talking instead of working.
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The sluggard and narcissist are different characters, but in some cases share the same traits.   In addition to a prideful “know it all” attitude, they are both expert in making excuses or blaming others when they fall short of their responsibilities.  Of the sluggard Proverbs says,
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The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!” 
Proverbs 22:13
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There is no lion in the street, the sluggard just makes up stories so that he does not have to go out and actually work.
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What do you do with this?  As we have said before, the best thing is to recognize them beforehand and avoid them.
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The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it. 
Proverbs 22:3
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If you unwisely hire them (as one example), the next best thing is to place clear boundaries with attendant consequences….
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Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And blows for the back of fools. 
Proverbs 19:29
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….giving you the basis to kick them out of your business when they inevitably violate the boundaries
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Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, Even strife and dishonor will cease. 
Proverbs 22:10
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The Good Kind Of Boasting

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I will bless the Lord at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice. 

Psalm 34:1-2

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Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord

Jeremiah 9:23-24

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Narcissists boast, and if you listen long enough, even covert narcissists will boast.  They frequently boast about what they have done, but might also boast about what others have done in a way that still gives them credit – that they influenced or caused it to happen in some way.

Because narcissists have a self-centered rather than God-centered view of everything, what narcissists will not do is give God the credit He deserves.  They do not realize that everything that anyone is able to do ultimately has God’s enablement as the foundation.

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36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 

Romans 11:36

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It is virtually impossible for someone with strong narcissist tendencies to boast in God and give Him credit for an accomplishment. It’s quite normal to NOT hear others give God credit for things, even in church, but when someone overtly and consistently gives themselves credit for everything, they are giving you a clue that they may be a narcissist.

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See here for initial steps to peace with God

 

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A Little Anecdote On Dealing With Narcissists

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Many years ago I hosted a business colleague from another country.  While driving to visit a company facility he told me a little story that illustrated a way to deal with narcissists.  The colleague was from a little country next to a big country that spoke the same language.  The larger  mother country was known for being very prideful and while in decline still envisioned themselves as great.  Other countries around this big country used to describe them as having a “prestige imperative”.  In other words decisions the big country made were based on whether it made them appear to be a great country or not.

The colleague from the little country told me that the way the little country – who was looked down on by the big country – used to treat people from the big country was to “tell them they’re the king and then take their money”.  The people from the big country would be so wrapped up in the exaltation that they would be blind to everything else.

The point of this story is that many times a narcissist will put so much emphasis on their self-exaltation that they are oblivious to the prudent steps in their lives which actually make for successful living.

This is one application of the Proverb

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Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes before honor. 
Proverbs 18:12
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Be Still My Soul

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NOTE:  This is the last day for the free Kindle book giveaway of “Time To Prepare:  Signposts On The Road To The End”.  This offer ends midnight tonight, Pacific Time.  No strings attached.  

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Some music (but not a lot) has great theology embedded.   Last week I heard for the first time in a long time a song with great, Biblically-based words – Be Still My Soul, set to the melody “Finlandia”.

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Be Still My Soul (Lyrics)

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​Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

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Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below.

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Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.

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Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

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Click here for initial steps to peace with God

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God’s Plan For A Purpose Of Love

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We wrestle through much of our lives, often too busy to think deeply about what is going on.  But, occasionally when we face a uniquely difficult situation we may ask ourselves “why”.  Why did God “allow” this problem?  Why is my life the way it is?  We may look at the bigger picture by asking “why did God design life the way He did?”.   The following is not an exhaustive discussion, but something to consider.

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As you ponder, a key piece is to understand that God has a fundamental plan for a purpose of love, for everyone.

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….. In all wisdom and insight He [God] made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him [Jesus] ……….. who (God) works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:8-12

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Ephesians 1:8-12 explains clearly that God has a plan – for you, me, everyone – for a purpose of love – “the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention”.   This plan is not just spoken of in Ephesians 1.  Isaiah talks about God’s wonderful works, based on His plans formed long ago (i.e. – before Creation), with perfect faithfulness (fully consistent with His nature, including His goodness).

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O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

Isaiah 25:1

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To arrive at this plan, God thought through every possibility which could exist (“in all insight” – think trillions X trillions X trillions) and chose the optimal one (“in all wisdom”) which would accomplish His purpose of love.  And He executes everything, down to the tiniest detail, according to the plan which he has created (“works all things after the counsel of His will”).

The essence of God’s nature is love, so any plan consistent with that nature would be a plan formed and executed from His heart of love.

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“God is love” – 1 John 4:8

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The centerpiece of this plan is the ultimate demonstration of His love (“which He purposed in Him [Jesus]”) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to save His enemies from the consequences of their actions.

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For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

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To emphasize again, God – out of His core nature of love and an overflowing desire to express that love – came up with the single best plan that would most fully demonstrate that love.  And that plan would be to die for worthless, far-beneath-Him enemies to save them from what they deserved and to replace that with the highest standing possible as eternal citizens of Heaven.

The end of all of this is that we will praise Him for his manifold excellence (“praise of His glory”) which He has shown in every possible way – and of which we have been made a prime beneficiary.  While God’s plan for a purpose of love is general (“for God so loved the world” – John 3:16), it is also specific to you and specific to me.

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When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

John 21:18-22

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When we ask why God is allowing a narcissist to wreak havoc in our lives, we can be confident in our belief that it is not random – there is a much bigger plan in play, and the essence of that plan is love.  The proof of God’s goodness is Jesus’ death on the cross for us.  And God makes it clear that if He was willing to do that, why would He not shower us with other demonstrations of His goodness?

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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?   

Romans 8:31-32

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It is impossible for me or anyone else to tell you what God’s plan for a purpose of love is for you.  God is weaving together millions of millions of life circumstances specifically for you.  While the broad themes might be similar, your life and God’s plan for your life is one-of-a-kind.  I have an identical twin brother, and we have a lot in common in our life trajectories – but our lives are not at all the same.  My wife’s life and my life are very different, even though they are lived together.

Why this way?  God’s BIG plan was realized through the singular most important event in history, but the billions x billions of demonstrations and outflowing of that plan through the wide variety of our individual lives further displays God’s glory like additional facets of a diamond.  An 16-sided diamond is good, but a 10,000-sided diamond far more glorious in the light it reflects.

Of course, those who do not believe but reject God and His love have a very different outcome.  They forfeit much of God’s goodness in this present life (they still receive His common goodness given to all mankind), and more importantly experience His wrath reserved for those who reject Him.

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Click here for initial steps to peace with God

 

 

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The Key To Peace

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When we are in a difficult and stressful situation, we want solutions.  But it would also be nice to have peace, and even joy in the middle of the situation.  We will try to address joy in another blog post, but let’s start with attaining peace.  Is there a consistent way to have peace even when under stress?

Psalm 131 explains how:

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Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever. 

Psalm 131

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Key principles in this Psalm show us how to be at peace regardless of our circumstances

  1. It starts with a humble heart

Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; 

Psalm 131:1

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What is humility?  One working definition is that it is clearly seeing God’s greatness, while at the same time recognizing our lack of greatness – our deep need in every area of life.  Humility goes further to demonstrate our recognition of our needs by going to God for them instead of taking things into our hands.  Humility also recognizes that our fellow man is in the exact same position as us, and rather than looking down our noses we assist them through encouraging them to look to God while at the same time helping them to the extent that we can.

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2.  A humble heart leads us to let God be God, not attempting to take His place

Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me. 

Psalm 131:2

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Psalm 131 lists 2 things not to be involved with, leaving one thing that we should focus on.  The 2 things to not involve ourselves with are:

  1. “Great matters” – includes things which God and only God can orchestrate – this ranges from the geopolitical affairs of the world, to the weather, all the way down to how other people behave
  2. “Things too difficult for me” – includes things beyond our ability to control.  Can you change your spouse?  No, only God can do that.  Can you control every circumstance of your life?  No.  You CAN work hard, take personal responsibility, develop your personal character, and manage your personal response to others.  But many parts of your life are in God’s hands, not yours.

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Not involving ourselves in these 2 things leaves us free to focus on what remains – things that God has made my responsibility.  The implication is – “do what you can and should, and trust God for the rest”.

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Focusing on our responsibility and leaving the rest to God requires us to truly trust Him….

    • His 100 percent love for us,
    • His 100 percent knowledge and wisdom in guiding our situation,
    • His 100 percent power to execute His wise plan for us from His heart of goodness
    • His 100 percent consistency and faithfulness

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This is what Proverbs 3:5-6 talks about when it says,

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

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Trusting in God means that we do not take HIS things into our own hands, which often makes things worse and results in a life where we feel that we are careening off the walls.

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God does give us prayer as a means to link His will with our hearts, and to give us an outlet for the anguish of our needs.  God’s goal in EVERY situation is for us to know Him more, so that we more clearly see His greatness.  Taking every need to Him in prayer is a key to doing this.

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Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:6-7

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Leaving God’s things to God leads to peace and contentment.  Psalm 131 describes it this way.

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Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me. 

Psalm 131:3

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Please click here for the initial steps to peace with God

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